Monday, March 14, 2011


We came back from Hanmer Springs today and back to reality.  I decided last week that we needed to get away from the city and the constant shakes that had us all on edge so I booked a long weekend away.  Hanmer Springs is a stunning little alpine village only a 90 minute drive from Christchurch but it could have been a thousand kms away, it was a perfect spot.  It was quiet and restful and best of all there were no shakes.  You could see the girls visibly relax and I was relieved to see them stop worrying.  Even the sound and feel of the odd truck going past on day one was enough to see them tense up, that was gone by day three.  We visited the hot springs, went to the animal farm and went on walks, it was bliss.

But I should have remembered, you can never run away from your problems.  Mia was unhappy to come home and wanted to stay even before we left.  Coming home to Sumner made her old fears return so fast it was like we had never been away.  For some reason, mother nature times her worst aftershocks for bedtime and tonight was no different.  I had managed to coax and persuade Mia it was safe and she needed to go to bed.  An hour later she was up and worried about returning to school tomorrow.  No sooner had we got her back to bed, a 3.8 hit directly underneath our hill.  She was screaming and shaking by the time we got to their room, completely terrified.  Poor Amy had been asleep and was shocked and scared with no idea what was happening.  Now with both awake and scared, there was no way to get them back to sleep easily.  Finally at 10pm, with me lying on the floor until they fell asleep, I could get some down time.

Every parent worries about their child, it comes with the swollen ankles of pregnancy, I understand that. But this recent worry leaves me feeling helpless.  Mia has always been a worrier.  She has always had fears and panic attacks. She is not a naturally positive person.  Until now, her fears have been small childhood worries like performing in a school play or being in a busy crowd - fears that can be explained with steps to overcome them.  This is not something that can be given a guaranteed answer to ease fears.  I can't say, "Don't worry we won't ever have another earthquake" or "Everything will be fine now, the big one has come and gone." I can't give her the guarantees I know she is looking for.  I have always had the answers for her before and this time I don't.  I tell her the experts say that is it, no more but my assurances are not heard when she feels the ground move, even for a small aftershock.  It is the not knowing when the next shudder will come that has you on edge, all of us, just waiting. 

Adults, young and old, were terrified by the earthquake, but we have the resources to call on, to reason and to understand the science, how can a 6 year old deal with this and move on?  I want to help her by giving her knowledge and talking about it.  I was hoping that going back to school tomorrow and being with her friends would help.  But how do I know I am doing the right thing and not scaring her more.  I am her constant at the moment and she will not leave my side, I give her love and hugs and reassurance and hope that that will heal her. 

I have stopped fearing the aftershocks, their wobbles don't scare me, but I am constantly on edge waiting for them to come and worried about the effect they will have on Mia.  She is fragile and my need to protect her is at an all time high, I don't feel like I am doing my best at the moment.

We are in the process of buying a house, a very exciting move and will mean we move from Sumner to a semi-rural area that was not affected by either earthquake.  We are counting down the sleeps and Mia is beside herself in anticipation of moving.  It cannot come soon enough and I am hoping with it comes that same relaxation we felt in Hanmer Springs.  I want her to go back to being a kid, with kid sized worries.  Ones that hopefully I can deal with.

1 comment:

  1. Amanda,
    These gigantic brick walls of parenting are tough. I also spend my days vacillating between false promises (everything will be OK), empty guarantees (if you do it today, it will be easier tomorrow) and flat out lies (You will be OK), but for different reasons.

    I feel your pain, and can only offer platitudes.

    What I do know, is your openness and honesty and courage will balance out the slightly less positive teaching Mother Nature is providing for them.

    It's a marathon, not a sprint. Keep your energy up for the journey to less rattly surroundings.

    Love from here.